We caught up with Sam between leadership development workshops for some reflections on his work.
Q. Tell us about yourself.
A. I’m a father of 3 kids, 38 years old, and starting to think of a suitable way to celebrate 40 (ouch! How did that happen?). I love what I do now, but I know from past experience what it’s like to detest my job. I’m very lucky – the variety of my work is amazing and of course there’s the people. We have a great core team here. It’s a lot of fun meeting new people through our work with clients too – nurses, railway people, power plant operators, managers, operators, team leaders. It all fascinates me.
Q. You’ve been at the helm of LKS Quaero for a year now. How would you characterise the last year?
A. The last year has been great. As always, when you are a consultant there are busy and then extremely busy times – you need to act quickly when you see an opportunity. I’ve also learnt a lot, from my team and from my clients. I’m often surprised by how much an individual is able to achieve – despite them doubting themselves. The highlight is always seeing people grow. That gets me up in the morning.
Q. Are there any trends in the issues that have been cropping up for your clients lately?
A. That’s a tough one, but there are 2 things. The 2 biggest inhibitors for growth in individuals seem to come down to a lack of confidence or a wall of defensiveness (or sometimes both). Overcome these things, and you’re on a winner. Organisations start with individuals so that’s why we (or more specifically Peter) say that if you want to start changing something, look in the mirror first.
Q. What do you find challenging in your own work?
A. For me, it’s taking care of my health. That’s the thing that tends to suffer when work becomes full on, getting the basics right: sleep, nutrition, exercise. What I’m eating tends to become the last priority – my wife is much better at this than me so my health improves overnight when I’m at home as opposed to being on the road. I’ve started substituting popcorn for chips and things like that – but it needs constant work as my habits are terrible in this area!
Q. As a leadership and culture specialist, where do you think leaders should be putting their focus?
A. Leaders should focus on themselves first. Leaders’ behaviour is highly symbolic and it’s contagious, for better or worse. If a leader thinks they’re a victim of their organisation, their team members will pick this up straight away. If they’re more positive, this also catches on. So start with yourself and be brutally honest.